After Irish television network RTÉ falsely claimed that Rev. Kevin Reynolds had impregnated a teenage girl and fathered a child in Kenya in the early 1980's, a High Court settlement has arranged that the reckless network will pay "substantial compensatory and aggravated" damages to the innocent Catholic priest.
Although the terms of the arrangement are confidential, the Irish Times is reporting that Fr. Reynolds will receive "more than €1 million, including costs."
Last May, RTÉ aired a high-profile, prime-time special entitled, "A Mission to Prey," with the clear goal of lambasting the Catholic Church for sex abuse scandals
Even before the program aired, Fr. Kevin vehemently denied the show's claims against him. The priest even hired attorneys before the show to notify the network that the claims were false. Not only did he assert that he had never even known anyone by the accuser's name, but he also agreed to a paternity test.
But RTÉ was anxious to air the show, and it broadcast the program anyway.
As a result of the allegations, Fr. Reynolds was forced to leave his parish ministry and home.
Two conclusive paternity tests later demonstrated that there was no way that Fr. Reynolds could be the father of the accuser's child.
RTÉ eventually acknowledged that the program "ought never to have been broadcast." It also admitted its accusations were "baseless, without any foundation whatever and untrue," and the defamation had "a devastating effect on Fr. Kevin Reynolds, his family, his peers, [and] his parishioners."
Outside the High Court, Fr. Sean McDonagh, from the Association of Catholic Priests, spoke forcefully and directly about how the media has unfairly characterized and besmirched Catholic clergy. It is definitely worth a listen.
[This has been a follow-up to TheMediaReport.com's post, "Irish TV Network Defames Innocent Priest, Issues Apology," from earlier this month. Readers can see the video of the original segment from RTÉ that defamed Fr. Reynolds.]